Indonesia yesterday confirmed its fourth human death from the bird flu virus, taking the death toll in Asia to 63, and said it was investigating whether a neighbor of the victim was also sickened by the disease.
Tests from a Hong Kong laboratory showed that a 37-year-old woman who died last week had contracted the H5N1 bird flu virus, said I Nyoman Kandun, the health ministry's director general for illness control and environmental health.
The health ministry also said that a neighbor of the woman had been hospitalized with symptoms consistent with bird flu. But authorities said they were still awaiting lab results before confirming she had been sickened by the virus.
Kandun warned that Indonesia would continue to report cases because the virus was rife in poultry farms across the country.
"It will be like in Vietnam and Thailand," he told reporters.
The virus has swept through poultry populations in large swathes of Asia since 2003, resulting in the deaths of tens of millions of birds -- and 63 people, most of them in Vietnam and Thailand.
Indonesia recorded its first human fatalities from bird flu in July when a father and his two daughters died after contracting the virus. Officials have linked those deaths to droppings from an infected bird.
Kandun said the source of the latest infection was not yet known.
He said surveillance of poultry needed to be stepped up, but urged the country's 210 million people not to panic.
"Be alert, but do not be alarmed," he said.
Officials have carried out limited vaccinations of some of the estimated 2 billion birds in the country, but say they lack funds to carry out culls of flocks in areas where the virus is prevalent.
The virus has been recorded in 22 of Indonesia's 32 provinces since 2003.
Most of the human deaths from bird flu have been linked to contact with sick birds. But the World Health Organization has warned that the virus could mutate into a form which is more easily transmitted from human to human, possibly triggering a pandemic that could kill millions worldwide.
Indonesia confirmed its fourth human death from bird flu on Friday and said another person was suspected of having the virus as global alarm grew that the disease would mutate and become a pandemic.
Speaking in New York on Thursday, World Health Organization chief Lee Jong-wook said the virus was moving toward becoming transmissible by humans and that the international community had no time to waste to prevent a pandemic.
The highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of the virus has killed 64 people in four Asian countries since late 2003 and also spread to Russia and Europe.
Indonesian health officials said tests had shown bird flu killed a woman who died last week in a Jakarta hospital after she was admitted suffering from pneumonia and flu-like respiratory problems.
"It's positive for H5N1," I Nyoman Kandun, director-general of disease control at the Health Ministry, told reporters.
One of Australia’s two active volcanoes on an island near Antarctica — known as Big Ben — has been spotted by satellite spewing lava. The lava flow on the uninhabited Heard Island, about 4,100km southwest of Perth and 1,500km north of Antarctica, is part of an ongoing eruption that was first noted more than a decade ago. The image was caught by the European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite on Thursday, and is a composite of an optical picture and an infrared image. The lava is seen flowing down the side of Big Ben from near the summit, known as Mawson Peak.
SYMBOLIC: The bill sponsored by a cross-party group of lawmakers was hailed as a ‘historic moment’ in the fight for marriage equality, but is unlikely to pass Lawmakers in South Korea have proposed the country’s first same-sex marriage bill, in a move hailed by civic groups as a defining moment in the fight for equality. The marriage equality bill, proposed by South Korean lawmaker Jang Hye-yeong of the minor opposition Justice Party and co-sponsored by 12 lawmakers across all the main parties, seeks to amend the country’s civil code to allow same-sex marriage. The bill is unlikely to pass, but forms part of a trio of bills expected to increase pressure on the government to expand the idea of family beyond traditional criteria. The two other bills relate to
After the sun sets in Harare, the streets of Zimbabwe’s capital suddenly burst to life. Carts, cars and trucks turned into makeshift, unauthorized shops sell anything from potatoes to babies’ diapers on the pavements of the city center. Shopping is best done at night in times of hyperinflation and economic hardship. Cash-crunched Zimbabweans are increasingly turning to informal vendors for their groceries shopping, as, with little or no overheads, street hawkers can afford to undercut big supermarkets. “Everything is always cheaper outside,” Blessing Steven, 23, a taxi driver, said, buying a bottle of juice for US$0.50 at a roadside stall rather than
OUTSPOKEN: Cresenciano Bunduquin, who was killed by motorcycle-riding shooters, hosted a program about ‘hard-hitting’ local issues such as illegal gambling and politics A radio broadcaster was yesterday fatally shot outside his home in the central Philippines, police said, the latest in a long list of journalists killed in the country. Cresenciano Bunduquin, 50, was killed by motorcycle-riding shooters in Calapan City in Oriental Mindoro province, police Colonel Samuel Delorino said. One of the assailants died after Bunduquin’s son hit the shooters with his vehicle as they fled the scene of the pre-dawn attack. “The remaining suspect was able to run off. The hot pursuit operation is still ongoing,” Delorino said. The archipelago nation is one of the most dangerous places in the world for